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Devī (: देवी) is the Sanskrit word for ""; the masculine form is Deva. Devi – the feminine form, and Deva – the masculine form, mean "heavenly, divine, anything of excellence", and are also gender specific terms for a in Hinduism.

The concept and reverence for goddesses appears in the , which were composed in the 2nd millennium BCE; however, they do not play a central role in that era. Goddesses such as and have continued to be revered into the modern era. The medieval era witnessed a major expansion in mythology and literature associated with Devi, with texts such as the , wherein she manifests as the ultimate truth and supreme power. She has inspired the tradition of Hinduism.Thomas Coburn (2002), Devī-Māhātmya: The Crystallization of the Goddess Tradition, Motilal Banarsidass, , pages 1–23

The divine feminine has the strongest presence as Devi in Hinduism, among major world religions, from the ancient times to the present. The goddess is viewed as central in Shakti and Saiva Hindu traditions.Flood, Gavin, ed. (2003), The Blackwell Companion to Hinduism, Blackwell Publishing Ltd., , pages 200–203


Etymology
Devi and Deva are Sanskrit terms found in Vedic literature of the 2nd millennium BCE. Deva is masculine, and the related feminine equivalent is devi. Monier-Williams translates it as "heavenly, divine, terrestrial things of high excellence, exalted, shining ones".Klostermaier, Klaus (2010). A Survey of Hinduism, 3rd Edition. State University of New York Press, , pages 101–102 Etymologically, the cognates of Devi are Latin dea and Greek thea.Hawley, John Stratton and Donna Marie Wulff (1998). Devi: Goddesses of India, Motilal Banarsidass. , page 2 When capitalized, Devi or Mata refers to goddess as divine mother in Hinduism.John Stratton Hawley and Donna Marie Wulff (1998), Devi: Goddesses of India, Motilal Banarsidass, , pages 18–21 Deva is also referred to as Devatā, and Devi as Devika.

According to Douglas Harper, the etymological root Dev- means "a shining one," from *div- "to shine," and it is a cognate with Greek dios "divine" and , and Latin deus (Old Latin deivos). Deva Etymology Dictionary, Douglas Harper (2015)


History
The Devīsūkta of the 10.125.1 through 10.125.8, is among the most studied hymns declaring that the ultimate reality is a goddess:

The includes numerous goddesses including (power), (wealth), (earth), (cosmic moral order), (river, knowledge), Vāc (sound), Nirṛti (destruction), (night), Aranyani (forest), and bounty goddesses such as Dinsana, Raka, Puramdhi, Parendi, Bharati, Mahi among others are mentioned in the . However, the goddesses are not discussed as frequently as gods (Devas). Parvati, appears in late Vedic texts dated to be pre-Buddhist, but verses dedicated to her do not suggest that her characteristics were fully developed in the Vedic era. All gods and goddesses are distinguished in the Vedic times, but in the post-Vedic texts, particularly in the early medieval era literature, they are ultimately seen as aspects or manifestations of one Devi, the Supreme power.Fuller, Christopher John (2004). The Camphor Flame: Popular Hinduism and Society in India. Princeton University Press, , page 41

Devi is the supreme being in the tradition of Hinduism, while in the , she is one of the five primary forms of that is revered. In other Hindu traditions, Devi embodies the active energy and power of Deva, and they always appear together complementing each other, such as with in , with in , and with in .Stella Kramrisch (1975), The Indian Great Goddess, History of Religions, Vol. 14, No. 4, page 261Ananda Coomaraswamy, Saiva Sculptures, Museum of Fine Arts Bulletin, Vol. 20, No. 118, page 17

The Devi-inspired philosophy is propounded in many Hindu texts, such as the , which states that is essentially (ultimate Reality), from her arise Prakṛti (matter) and (consciousness), she is bliss and non-bliss, the and what is different from it, the born and the unborn, and all of the universe. Shakti is , ’s wife. She is also mentioned as the creative power of Shiva in Tripura Upanishad, Bahvricha Upanishad, and Guhyakali Upanishad.

Devi identifies herself in the as in her reply to the gods stating that she rules the world, blesses devotees with riches, she is the supreme deity to whom all worship is to be offered, and that she infuses Ātman in every soul. Devi asserts that she is creator of earth and heaven and resides there. Her creation of sky as father, seas as mother is reflected as the "Inner Supreme Self". Her creations are not prompted by any Higher being and she resides in all her creations. She is, states Devi, the eternal and infinite consciousness engulfing earth and heaven, and "all forms of bliss and non-bliss, knowledge and ignorance, and Non-Brahman". The tantric aspect in Devi Upanishad, states June McDaniel is the usage of the terms , bindu, bija, , and .

Among the major world religions, the concept of goddess in Hinduism as the divine feminine, has had the strongest presence since the ancient times.


Examples

Parvati
Parvati is the Hindu goddess of love, beauty, purity, fertility and devotion.Dehejia, H.V. Parvati: Goddess of Love. Mapin, .James Hendershot, Penance, Trafford, , pp 78.Chandra, Suresh (1998). Encyclopaedia of Hindu Gods and Goddesses. , pp 245–246 She is considered to be one of the greatest forms and the primary manifested form of . She is the gentle and nurturing aspect of . She is the mother goddess in Hinduism and has many attributes and aspects. Each of her aspects is expressed with a different name, giving her over 100 names in regional Hindu mythologies of India, including the popular name Gauri.Keller and Ruether (2006). Encyclopedia of Women and Religion in North America. Indiana University Press, , pp 663 Along with (goddess of wealth and prosperity) and (goddess of knowledge and learning), she forms the .Schuon, Frithjof (2003). Roots of the Human Condition. , pp 32

Parvati is the wife of - the destroyer, recycler and regenerator of universe and all life.Balfour, Edward The Encyclopaedia of India and of Eastern and Southern Asia. , pp 153. She is the mother of Hindu gods and .Haag, James W. et al. (2013). The Routledge Companion to Religion and Science, Routledge, , pp 491–496

Rita Gross states,Gross, Rita M. (1978). Hindu Female Deities as a Resource for the Contemporary Rediscovery of the Goddess. Journal of the American Academy of Religion 46(3): 269–291. that the view of Parvati only as ideal wife and mother is incomplete symbolism of the power of the feminine in the mythology of India. Parvati, along with other goddesses, are involved with the broad range of culturally valued goals and activities. Her connection with motherhood and female sexuality does not confine the feminine or exhaust their significance and activities in Hindu literature. She is balanced by , who is strong and capable without compromising her femaleness. She manifests in every activity, from water to mountains, from arts to inspiring warriors, from agriculture to dance. Parvati's numerous aspects, states Gross, reflects the Hindu belief that the feminine has universal range of activities, and her gender is not a limiting condition.

In Hindu belief, Parvati is the recreative energy and power of Shiva, and she is the cause of a bond that connects all beings and a means of their spiritual release.Ananda Coomaraswamy, Saiva Sculptures, Museum of Fine Arts Bulletin, Vol. 20, No. 118 (Apr., 1922), pp 17Stella Kramrisch (1975), The Indian Great Goddess, History of Religions, Vol. 14, No. 4, pp. 261

Devi is portrayed as the ideal wife, mother, and householder in Indian legends.Wojciech Maria Zalewski (2012), The Crucible of Religion: Culture, Civilization, and Affirmation of Life, , pp 136 In Indian art, this vision of ideal couple is derived from Shiva and Parvati as being half of the other, represented as .Betty Seid (2004), The Lord Who Is Half Woman (Ardhanarishvara), Art Institute of Chicago Museum Studies, Vol. 30, No. 1, Notable Acquisitions at The Art Institute of Chicago, pp. 48–49MB Wangu (2003), Images of Indian Goddesses: Myths, Meanings, and Models, , Chapter 4 and pp 86–89.A Pande (2004), Ardhanarishvara, the Androgyne: Probing the Gender Within, , pp 20–27 Parvati is found extensively in ancient Indian literature, and her statues and iconography grace ancient and medieval era Hindu temples all over and .Hariani Santiko, The Goddess Durgā in the East-Javanese Period, Asian Folklore Studies, Vol. 56, No. 2 (1997), pp. 209–226Ananda Coomaraswamy, Saiva Sculptures, Museum of Fine Arts Bulletin, Vol. 20, No. 118 (Apr., 1922), pp 15–24


Lakshmi
, also called , is the Hindu goddess of wealth, fortune, and prosperity (both material and spiritual). She is the consort and active energy of .A Parasarthy (1983), Symbolism in Hinduism, CMP, , pages 57–59 Her four hands represent the four goals of human life considered important to the Hindu way of life – , kāma, , and .Rhodes, Constantina (2011). Invoking Lakshmi: The Goddess of Wealth in Song and Ceremony. State University of New York Press, , pp. 29–47, 220–252. Divali - THE SYMBOLISM OF LAKSHMI National Library and Information System Authority, Trinidad and Tobago (2009) She is also part of which consists of Lakshmi, (goddess of power, fertility, love, beauty), and (goddess of music, wisdom, and learning).

In the ancient scriptures of India, all women are declared to be embodiments of Lakshmi. The marriage and relationship between Lakshmi and Vishnu as wife and husband, states Patricia Monaghan, is "the paradigm for rituals and ceremonies for the bride and groom in ."Monaghan, Patricia. (ed.) (2010). Goddesses in World Culture, Volume 1. Praeger, , pp. 5–11.

Archaeological discoveries and ancient coins suggest the recognition and reverence for goddess Lakshmi in the Scytho-Parthian kingdom and throughout India by the 1st millennium BCE.Vishnu, Asha (1993). Material life of northern India: Based on an archaeological study, 3rd century B.C. to 1st century B.C. , pp. 194–195. She is also revered in other non-Hindu cultures of Asia, such as in Tibet.Miranda Shaw (2006), Buddhist Goddesses of India, Princeton University Press, , Chapter 13 with pages 258–262 Lakshmi's iconography and statues have also been found in Hindu temples throughout Southeast Asia, estimated to be from second half of 1st millennium CE.Roveda, Vitorio (June, 2004). The Archaeology of Khmer Images. Aséanie 13(13): 11–46. O goddess where art thou? S. James, Cornell University (2011) In modern times, Lakshmi is worshipped as the goddess of wealth. The festivals of and (Kojagiri Purnima) are celebrated in her honor.Jones, Constance (2011). Religious Celebrations: An Encyclopedia of Holidays, Festivals, Solemn Observances, and Spiritual Commemorations (Editor: J Gordon Melton), , pp. 253–254, 798.


Saraswati
Saraswati, is the Hindu goddess of knowledge, music, arts, wisdom and learning. She is the consort of .Encyclopaedia of Hinduism, p. 1214; Sarup & Sons,

The earliest known mention of Saraswati as a goddess is in . She has remained significant as a goddess from the Vedic age through modern times of Hindu traditions. Some Hindus celebrate the festival of (the fifth day of spring) in her honour, Vasant Panchami Saraswati Puja , Know India - Odisha Fairs and Festivals and mark the day by helping young children learn how to write alphabets on that day. The festival of Vasant Panchami: A new beginning, Alan Barker, United Kingdom She is also part of which consists of Saraswati, (goddess of power, fertility, love, beauty), and (goddess of material wealth, prosperity, and fortune).

Saraswati is often depicted dressed in pure white, often seated on a white . She not only embodies knowledge but also the experience of the highest reality. Her iconography is typically in white themes from dress to flowers to swan – the colour symbolizing Sattwa Guna or purity, discrimination for true knowledge, insight and wisdom.Jean Holm and John Bowke (1998), Picturing God, Bloomsbury Academic, , pages 99–101

She is generally shown to have four arms, but sometimes just two. The four hands hold items with symbolic meaning — a pustaka (book or script), a mala (rosary, garland), a water pot and a musical instrument (lute or vina). The book she holds symbolizes the representing the universal, divine, eternal, and true knowledge as well as all forms of learning. A mālā of crystals, representing the power of meditation, a pot of water represents powers to purify the right from wrong. The musical instrument, typically a , represents all creative arts and sciences, and her holding it symbolizes expressing knowledge that creates harmony.Griselda Pollock and Victoria Turvey-Sauron (2008), The Sacred and the Feminine: Imagination and Sexual Difference, , pages 144–147 The Saraswatirahasya Upanishad of the contain ten verses called " dasa sloki" which are in praise of Sarasvati.

(1975). 9788120816114, Motilal Banarsidass. .
In this Upanishad, she is extolled as
You are the swan gliding over the pond of creative energy, waves and waves of creative forces emanating from your form! Radiant Goddess resplendent in white, dwell forever in the Kashmir of my heart.
(2009). 9781101052570, DK Publishing. .

Saraswati is also found outside India, such as in Japan, Vietnam, Bali (Indonesia) and Myanmar.Thomas Donaldson (2001), Iconography of the Buddhist Sculpture of Orissa, , pages 274–275


Durga and Kali
Vedic literature does not have any particular goddess matching the concept of Durga. Her legends appear in the medieval era, as angry, ferocious aspects of mother goddess take the as Durga or Kali.Kinsley, David (1988). Hindu Goddesses: Vision of the Divine Feminine in the Hindu Religious Traditions. University of California Press, . She manifests as a goddess with eight or ten arms holding weapons and skulls of demons, and is astride on a tiger or lion.Pattanaik, Devdutt (2014). Pashu: Animal Tales from Hindu Mythology. Penguin, , pp. 40–42.Kempton, Sally (2013). Awakening Shakti: The Transformative Power of the Goddesses of Yoga. , pp. 165–167. In , assumes the form of a warrior-goddess and defeats a demon called Durg who assumes the form of a buffalo. In this aspect, she is known by the name Durga. In later Hindu literature, states Jansen, she is attributed the role of the "energy, power (shakti) of the Impersonal Absolute".

In the traditions of Hinduism, found particularly in eastern states of India, Durga is a popular goddess. In the medieval era composed texts such as the Puranas, she emerges as a prominent goddess in the context of crisis, when evil were on the ascent. The male gods were unable to contain and subdue the forces of evil, led by . The warrior goddess, as the unified form of all gods appears, she kills the Mahishasura, she is thereafter invincible and revered as "preserver of , destroyer of evil".Jansen, Eva Rudy (2001). The Book of Hindu Imagery: Gods, Manifestations and Their Meaning. Holland: Binkey Kok, , pp. 133–134, 41.

Durga's emergence and mythology is described in the , particularly the . The text describes 's emerging out of Durga when she becomes extremely angry. Durga's face turns pitch dark, and suddenly Kali springs forth from Durga's forehead. She is black, wears a , is clothed in a tiger skin, rides a tiger, and wields a staff topped by a human skull. She destroys the asuras. Literature on goddess Kali recounts several such appearances, mostly in her terrifying but protective aspects. Kali appears as an independent deity, or like Durga, viewed as the wife of . In this aspect, she represents the omnipotent of Shiva. She holds both the creative and destructive power of time. Kali, also called Kalaratri, is called in as Prakṛti or "all of nature". She is described in the text, state Shimkhanda and Herman, as the "one great body of cosmos", and same as Devis "Durga, Jaya and Siddha, Virya, Gayatri, Saraswati, Uma, Savitri".Shimkhada, D. and P.K. Herman (2009). The Constant and Changing Faces of the Goddess: Goddess Traditions of Asia. Cambridge Scholars, , pp. 212–213. She is the power that supports the earth, with all its seas, islands, forests, deserts and mountains, asserts Yoga Vasistha. She is not to be confused with the Kali-yuga, which is spelled similarly yet holds a different meaning. The Kali-yuga is presented as a threat to Mother India, with pictures from the nineteenth century depicting the age as a "ferocious meat-eating demon" in comparison to India's depiction of "a cow giving milk to her children".Religions in the Modern World

The largest annual festival associated with the goddess is celebrated in the month of (September–October), where nine manifestations of ( ) are worshipped, each on a day over nine days. These are: , , , , , , , and .


Tridevi
In the feminist denomination of Hinduism, the supreme deity manifests as the goddess in order to create, as the goddess in order to preserve, and as the goddess () in order to destroy. These of the supreme goddess Mahadevi are collectively called the .


Sita
Sita, an incarnation of Lakshmi, is the wife of , an of Vishnu. She is shakti or prakriti of Rama as told in the Ram Raksha Stotram. In , a shakta Upanishad, Sita is extolled as the supreme goddess. The Upanishad identifies Sita with (nature) which is constituted by "will" ichha, activity () and knowledge (). The Upanishad also states that Sita emerged while furrowing, at the edge of the . She is extolled as one of the for her virtuous qualities; taking their names destroys all sins.

Her life story and journeys with her husband Rama and brother-in-law are part of the Hindu epic , an allegorical story with Hindu spiritual and ethical teachings.A Arni A. and M Chitrakar M. Sita's Ramayana, Tara, However, there are many versions of Ramayana, and her story as a goddess in Hindu mythology. Her legends also vary in southeast Asian versions of the epic Ramayana, such as in the of where she is spelled as Sida (or Nang Sida).SN Desai (2005), Hinduism in Thai Life, Popular Prakashan, , pages 86–107, 121–123

In Valmiki Ramayana, Sita is repeatedly expressed as manifestation of Lakshmi, as the one who blesses abundance in agriculture, food, and wealth. She is referred to golden goddess, wherein after Rama (Vishnu) is bereaved of her, he refuses to marry again, insists that he is married solely and forever to her, and uses a golden image of Sita as a substitute in the performance of his duties as a king. Sita, in many Hindu mythology, is the Devi associated with agriculture, fertility, food and wealth for continuation of humanity.


Radha
means "prosperity, success, and lightning." She is the female counterpart of . In literature such as the Brahma Vaivarta Purana, she is known as the Goddess of love. She is known as goddess from the 12th century onwards and has figured prominently in the poems of (1352–1448) as a cosmic queen. She is also considered as an incarnation of Lakshmi. According to legend, Radha was married but she had mystical intimacy with Krishna.

Radha was made famous through 's poems. She was born as a milkmaid. She is considered a goddess of the heaven () who was considered a combination of Shakti and Vishnu's power. Her love affair with Krishna was set in and its surrounding forests much before Krishna married Rukmini and Satyabhama. Her attribute is lotus and she has always been a part of the symbolising "yearning of human soul drawn to Krishna". In she is considered as and is linked to Saraswati. The (12th century), a lyrical drama, a "mystical erotic poem", describes the love of Krishna and , Radha in particular, a symbolism for the human soul.


Mahadevi
In the sixth century when came into practice the name Devi (goddess) or Mahadevi (Great Goddess) came into prominence to represent one female goddess to encompass the discrete goddesses like Parvati and so forth. In the Hindu mythology, Devi and Deva are usually paired, complement and go together, typically shown as equal but sometimes the Devi is shown smaller or in the subordinate role. Some goddesses, however, play an independent role in Hindu pantheon, and are revered as Supreme without any male god(s) present or with males in subordinate position. Mahadevi, as mother goddess, is an example of the later, where she subsumes all goddesses, becomes the ultimate goddess, and is sometimes just called Devi. The counterpart of Mahadevi is Mahadeva who is so many people think of Mahadevi as .

Theological texts projected Mahadevi as ultimate reality in the universe as a "powerful, creative, active, transcendent female being." The Puranas and Tantra literature of India celebrates this idea, particularly between the 12th–16th century, and the best example of such texts being the various manuscript versions of Devi Bhagavata Purana with the embedded therein.Eva Rudy Jansen, The Book of Hindu Imagery: Gods, Manifestations and Their Meaning, Holland: Binkey Kok, , pages 127–128Tracy Pintchman (2001), Seeking Mahadevi: Constructing the Identities of the Hindu Great Goddess, State University of New York Press, , pages 1–12, 19–32, 191–192

(1998). 9780791439395, State University of New York Press.

Devi Bhagavata Purana gives prime position to Mahadevi as the mother of all-encompassing the three worlds and gives her the position of being all of universe – the material and the spiritual. In the Upanishadic text , a Sakta Upanishad and an important Tantric text probably composed sometime between the ninth and fourteenth centuries the Goddess is addressed in the most general and universal of terms, as Mahadevi, and represents all goddesses as different manifestations of her. The Lalita Sahasranama (Thousand names of ()or states that Mahadevi is known by different synonyms such as Jagatikanda (anchors the world), Vishvadhika (one who surpasses the universe), Nirupama (one who has no match), Parameshwari (dominant governor), Vyapini (encompasses everything), Aprameya (immeasurable), Anekakotibrahmadajanani (creator of many universes), Vishvagarbha (she whose Garba or womb subsumes the universe), Sarvadhara (helps all), Sarvaga (being everywhere at the same time, Sarvalokesi (governs all worlds) and Vishavdaharini one who functions for the whole universe).

The Mahadevi goddess has many aspects to her personality. She focuses on that side of her that suits her objectives, but unlike male Hindu deities, her powers and knowledge work in concert in a multifunctional manner.Tracy Pintchman (2001), Seeking Mahadevi: Constructing the Identities of the Hindu Great Goddess, State University of New York Press, , pages 25, 35 note 8 The ten aspects of her, also called (or great forms of her knowledge) are forms of and they are: , Tara, , , , , , , and .


Tantra and Devis
Tantric literature such as meaning "Flood of Beauty", credited to Adi Shankaracharya a shakta or tantric poem, is dedicated to the Supreme Deity of the sect, the Devi who is considered much superior to Shiva. It celebrates and her feminine persona. It is an approach to the tantra through .

In Shakti Tantra traditions, Devis are visualized with yantra and are a tool for spiritual journey for the tantric adept. The adepts ritually construct triangle yantras with proper use of visualization, movement, and mantra. The adepts believe, state John Stratton Hawley and Donna Marie Wulff, that "to establish such yantra is to place the macrocosm within oneself", and doing so can yield temporal benefits, spiritual powers or enlightenment.John Stratton Hawley and Donna Marie Wulff (1998), Devi: Goddesses of India, Motilal Banarsidass, , pages 64–67

A tantric text titled "Vigyan Bhairav Tantra", 'Vigyan' meaning "consciousness" is a conversation between Shiva and rendered in 112 verses, elaborates on "wisdom and insight of pure consciousness."

Devi Puja is the worship of which is observed through four forms of Devi Yantra; the first is Tara that exists in the realm of the fourth representing the spiritual heart; Saraswati emanates in the first chakra; Lakshmi forms the second chakra; and is at the heart of the third chakra and completes the chakra. Worship through this Yantra leads to the realization of "cosmic energy" within oneself.


Matrikas
Matrikas, that is, the mothers, are seven or eight female divinities, which are depicted as a group. They are all forms of . They are , Vaishnavi, , Indrani, Kaumari, and or Narasimhi. The Matrikas concept are important in Tantric traditions.MB Wangu (2003), Images of Indian Goddesses, Abhinav Publications, , page 41 They are described in the Isaanasivagurudevapaddhati, as creations to facilitate Lord Shiva face his adversary . All the Matrikas are depicted in a sitting position known as the Lalitasana and bedecked with heavy jewellery.

Scholars state that the concept of Matrikas as powerful goddesses emerged in the early 1st millennium AD, and possibly much earlier.Chakravati, Dhilp (2001). Archaeology and World Religion (Editor: Timothy Insoll), Routledge, , pp. 42–44.Tiwari, Jagdish Narain (1971). Studies in Goddess Cults in Northern India, with Reference to the First Seven Centuries AD, Ph.D. thesis awarded by Australian National University, pp. 215–244.

The idea of eight mother goddesses together is found in Himalayan Shaivism, while seven divine mothers (Sapta Matrika) is more common in South India.Bert van den Hoek (1993) "Kathmandu as a sacrificial arena." Urban Symbolism. (Editor: Peter Nas), BRILL, , pp. 361–362.


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